What is the Morningstar Sustainability Rating?
In 2016, Morningstar created the Morningstar Sustainability Rating to help investors use environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) information to evaluate portfolios. The intention was to provide a reliable, objective way to evaluate how investment funds are meeting environmental, social and governance challenges based on the ESG risk ratings of the companies in which they invest. The ESG risk ratings are provided by Sustainalytics, a leading provider of ESG research. The rating system was subsequently enhanced in 2019.
The Morningstar Sustainability Rating is calculated by scoring every portfolio reported by a fund over the previous twelve months to determine a portfolio score. To receive a sustainability score, at least 67% of a fund’s assets must have a company ESG risk rating. The Sustainability Rating is updated once a month with the most recent portfolio for each fund. This portfolio score is then compared to all other funds in the same Morningstar Global Category and a rating assigned according to the fund position relative to its peers as follows:
So, 5 globes means the fund sits within the top 10% of similar funds when scored for ESG risk.
What does this mean?
The intention of the Sustainability Rating is to provide an objective measure for how a fund is managing ESG risks. A fund with a 5/5 score has underlying investments that are considered strong at interacting with the environment around them, the people that they deal with and are well governed. This should mean that they are well equipped to deal with future market environments, take advantage of opportunities and survive through regulatory change.